The Northeast’s Best Day Hikes for Leaf Viewing

Fall in the Northeast is a foliage frenzy. But many people who come to spot the changing colors don’t venture far from their cars or B&Bs. So all you have to do to escape the throngs of leaf peepers is set out on a day hike. You’ll find striking views of tinted maples and oaks and, with some luck, have a slice of wilderness to yourself.

Even better, this time of year offers other season-specific experiences, like foraging for wild mushrooms and wildlife viewing. From a trail that leads to Maine’s highest peak to a family-friendly outing that overlooks Lake George in upstate New York, there’s an easy and quick getaway, no matter where you are in the region.

The hike to the top of 3,155-foot Mount Cardigan isn’t long—the most direct route, up the West Ridge Trail, climbs 1,200 vertical feet and is just a three-mile round-trip—but the payoff is immense. From the bare granite summit, you’ll get a 360-degree panorama of the entire Lakes Region of New Hampshire, with unobstructed views of the White Mountains.

Maine’s expansive Bigelow Preserve is a 36,000-acre wilderness area consisting of seven summits in the Bigelow Range. There are endless hikes, but climbing to the top of Bigelow Mountain’s 4,145-foot West Peak, one of the tallest mountains in the state, is worth the effort.

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